7 Ways to Pray by Amy Boucher Pye
Taps into the wealth of Christian spiritual practice over the whole course of church history - recommended
7 Ways to Pray
By Amy Boucher Pye
ISBN 978-0-281-08496-8 (ebook ISBN 978-0-281-08497-5)
Reviewed by Philip Clements-Jewery
There is a story about Mother Teresa of Kolkata who, when asked in a media interview what she said during her prayers, answered: ‘Nothing. I just listen.’ The interviewer then asked what God said to her. Again she said, ‘Nothing. He just listens.’ It is said that she added, ‘If you don’t understand that, then I can’t explain it to you.’
Amy Boucher Pye’s book is for all who want to learn how to listen more intently to God and go deeper with him in their prayer life. Its sub-title is ‘Time-tested practices for encountering God’, and it delivers exactly what it says.
The author is, among other things, a retreat leader and spiritual director. In this book she taps into the wealth of Christian spiritual practice over the whole course of church history, about which, over the last few decades, there has been a growth of interest among Baptists and other evangelical Christians. This book may provide reassurance to those wondering about trying out these spiritual practices, but who might otherwise be suspicious about anything that comes from a different Christian tradition to their own.
The 7 spiritual practices dealt with are: praying with the Bible, lectio divina (originating in the monastic movement), the practice of the presence of God (with John Cassian and Brother Lawrence), listening to God in prayer (Teresa of Avila the model here), the prayer of lament (Psalms and Lamentations), praying with the imagination (with Ignatius Loyola), and using the examen (Ignatius again).
However, it is not just the theory or description of these practices that Amy Boucher Pye explains, although she does just that in a simple and attractive fashion. In addition, each chapter includes a prayer exercise so that readers are able to explore in a practical way these ancient Christian prayer practices.
I finish with something else that struck a chord with me, which was actually in the foreword by Sharon Garlough Brown. She points out that prayer is above all a response to the love of God. Quoting John 15.9 she writes, ‘This is prayer: a response of loving attention to the God who loved us first. Prayer is our consent to being loved in the same way as the Father has loved the Son.’
I have no hesitation in recommending this book to anyone who would like to say yes to the generous hospitality of God who invites us all to make our home within God’s love.
The Revd Dr Philip Clements-Jewery is a retired Baptist minister living in Huddersfield